Timothy was chosen by the Apostle Paul to train the next generation of church leaders in Ephesus. Those men would have the responsibility of having ‘headship’ over the congregation. They were to lead the congregation but not exercise ungodly power over the church; neither should they be passive officials who could be bribed or manipulated by the congregation. Instead, they were to watch over and direct God’s family like a wise father should watch over his own family. The word translated here as ‘overseer’ is also used for ‘bishop’, ‘elder’ or ‘presbyter’.
It is a good thing to want to lead a church, provided it is a response to God’s call and not a fleshly ambition. If a person has his heart set on that task, the church should know that is a wonderful desire. Every local church needs effective leadership, but it is a tough job - so nobody should be forced into the role unless he is willing (2 Corinthians 9:7). However the man and his passion must first be tested (1 Timothy 5:22); and in the following verses Paul gives a series of tests which are mainly about the potential leader’s character.
Godly leadership must start with a God-given desire to lead under God’s authority. It is God who appoints His leaders and they need to be willing to cooperate with Him. ‘Pastoral ministry’ means shepherding people - by taking them from where they are, to a place they cannot see, through a process they will not always enjoy. No wonder God’s under-shepherds need to be convinced they are called to fulfil the task, especially when the flock resist being led. If you are a leader (30% of W@W readers are church leaders), then ask the Lord to renew your inner conviction that He has called you to serve Him in this way. If you are not in leadership, pray for your leaders and obey their Biblical instructions (Hebrews 13:17). If you desire to be a leader, test your own teaching and lifestyle by Paul’s teaching in this Epistle and ask your local church leaders to test your calling.
© Dr Paul Adams